News / Africa

Nigeria Releases Women, Children Held as Boko Haram

Heather Murdock
Nigerian officials say they were demonstrating a commitment to peace talks when the country's security forces released dozens of women and children held in connection with the Boko Haram insurgency. As Nigeria's military continues to hunt down Boko Haram members, though, some analysts say it is too late for dialogue.
 
Zari Muhammad is free now after being arrested with her husband last year. Her sons had been accused of being Boko Haram members. Now both of her sons are dead and she does not know where her husband is.
 
Other newly freed prisoners include teenage boys who claim to have taken small amounts of cash to spy or store weapons for Boko Haram, insurgents who say they want to impose Islamic law and secure the release of imprisoned members.

Renewed calls for peace

Asking her questions is Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima, a man who repeatedly has called for dialogue between insurgents and the government. He said the release of these prisoners will pave the way toward peace talks, and he calls on Boko Haram to lay down their weapons.
 
“The federal government has shown its spirit, its commitment to the whole project by releasing these ladies and kids. And we believe that one good turn always deserves another. We believe it is high time the organization should allow peace to reign in this part of the world,” said Shettima.

Other Nigerian leaders are less enthusiastic about offering pardons - which include cash and often job training - to anyone connected with Boko Haram. The Christian Association Nigeria, known as CAN, repeatedly has rejected calls for peace talks, saying the insurgency should be crushed with military force.
 
CAN said Thursday its members still are being killed and churches are still being burned in the northeast, where a state of emergency was declared in three states on May 14. Thousands of troops were deployed to the region.

Battle continues

Some analysts say they support the idea of peace talks, and hail the government for releasing prisoners they think may not have been guilty in the first place. Hussaini Abdu, who heads the anti-poverty organization ActionAid in Abuja, said, “Innocent people have actually also been arrested. The bulk of the Boko Haram people are young people ranging from the age of about 15, 16 to about 25. So when you find any young man of that age, you arrest him whether he is Boko Haram or no Boko Haram. Many times there is not even evidence to show they are Boko Haram.”

He said the government has been promising to release women and children for years, but now with the northern battle raging, it may be too late to make a difference.
 
“The people who are doing the fighting wouldn’t notice because they are also scattered, some of them have been killed. They wouldn’t notice. It’s good for these women who have been unjustifiably detained to be released, but the release is coming at a time that it’s not going to make any major impact,” said Abdu.
 
The Nigerian military says it has captured hundreds of Boko Haram fighters in more than two weeks of fighting, and it says it has killed dozens of others while securing towns and destroying training camps. In a video released Wednesday to the French news wire service, Abubakar Shekau, the man believed to lead Boko Haram, refuted the military claims, saying Nigerian soldiers were fleeing his fighters.
 
Between blocked communications lines and barricaded roads, however, no independent observers are on the ground and as of now, reporters can not verify claims of either the military or the militants.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid